Friday, January 09, 2004
This was an article in the Financial Times two days speaks for itself.


Argentine relations cool with US
By Adam Thomson in Buenos Aires and Mark Turner in New York
Published: January 7 2004 20:39 | Last Updated: January 7 2004 20:39

Less than a week before a meeting between presidents Néstor Kirchner of Argentina and George W. Bush of the US, Argentina on Wednesday warned that the days of its automatic support for the world's most powerful nation were over.

"Carnal relations and automatic alignment [between the two countries] don't exist any more," Alberto Fernández, Argentina's cabinet chief, said on Wednesday, referring to a phrase coined during the 1990s to describe the South American nation's then unwavering support for the US.

Mr Fernández's stinging comments came a day after Roger Noriega, the US State Department's assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs, criticised what he saw as "a certain leftward drift" in Argentina's foreign policy.

The spat comes at an awkward time. In spite of ideological differences that separate Mr Bush and the centre-left Mr Kirchner, the two leaders have so far maintained a friendly relationship. The US has also been supportive of the Argentine government, and was instrumental in getting the IMF to sign a three-year deal with Argentina last September.

The two are set to hold private talks at next Tuesday's special summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico. Some observers fear Mr Noriega's comments may signal a tougher line by the US towards Argentina.

Mr Noriega even suggested Argentina's return to economic growth after four years of recession "might have b een more of a bounce than a full rebound", and underlined the importance of paying back foreign creditors who hold billions of dollars in defaulted bonds.

On Wednesday, Mr Fernández called Mr Noriega's comments on Argentina "impertinent". Aníbal Fernández, Argentina's interior minister, said the US official's remarks were "those of an insolent individual".


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